When Kelly Howland was shopping at Target with her "obviously fresh" newborn, a stranger approached. The woman began chatting about how cute her little one is and asking how old she is. But after their harmless banter, Kelly explained that this person completely crossed the line.
"I'm a brand new postpartum mom," Kelly wrote on Facebook, explaining that there was no way this woman didn't realize that she had very recently given birth. "And then she asks The Question: 'Have you heard of It Works before?' I tell her that I know what it is but I've never utilized it. She proceeds with artificial shock and surprise and gives me her card and her spiel."
It Works is a skin and nutrition company that sells products they promise "will change your life," but for this new mom, her life is pretty great and the last thing she wanted was a stranger at Target implying that she needed to do something about the way she looks. "Listen. I'm not upset this company exists. And I'm not even upset at this woman because she could be absolutely charming and just trying to hustle her own living and I have respect for a woman with guts to do that," she wrote. "But let's not pretend that approaching me specifically was a coincidence."
As Kelly explained, it's not like this stranger approached every woman that she came across at Target and it wasn't a coincidence that she tried to sell her these products.
But she did come to me - with my baby billboard of being brand new postpartum. We all know that this culture hammers into postpartum women a lot of physical insecurity about their bodies after delivering their miracles from their wombs. I don't think I have to spell out for a single woman the cultural pressure that postpartum mothers face regarding their physical appearance. We know. We all know. She knew. And that's why she approached me.
Instead of perpetuating this pressure, Kelly is pleading others to stop with the impossible expectations that she believes are keeping insecurities alive in new moms regarding their postpartum bodies. "Instead of leaning into superficial ideals imposed upon us, can we PLEASE start bucking the system and instead start praising each other for being the amazing, life giving, creation birthing vessels that we are?" she wrote. "Can we just offer each other adoration of the amazing things that we've accomplished and see our physical changes as marks of phenomenal accomplishment that only our sex has the privilege of experiencing?"
To the woman who approached her and anyone else who thinks that she should be embarrassed instead proud of the ways her body has changed, Kelly has an important message: "My body doesn't need to be wrapped or squeezed or changed. It needs to be valued and revered for the incredible life it just brought into this world. THAT is beauty and THAT is all it needs."